WhAT IS Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a pigment of natural origin that belongs to the family of carotenoids, nutrients known for their powerful antioxidant action, capable of protecting the cells of our body against the attacks of free radicals.   It is similar to chlorophyll, which is found in green plants and vegetables, and beta-carotene, which is found in orange plants and vegetables. Plants and animals that exhibit intense red coloring tend to be very high in astaxanthin, which is itself the world's most powerful carotenoid.

Where Is Astaxanthin Found in Nature?

In nature, astaxanthin is used to protect cells when they are attacked by a destructive stress generated by the degradation of their habitat. Subjected to extreme conditions, these micro organisms will set up a self-defence mechanism by generating astaxanthin, which will act immediately as a kind of natural shield to protect them. Astaxanthin is indirectly ingested by salmon, flamingos or shrimps, from which they get their famous pink color.  Unlike chlorophyll and beta-carotene, which are both found in terrestrial plants, astaxanthin is found predominantly in marine life. 

Moreover, this unique nutrient plays an important role in strengthening the body.

For example, scientists have proven that the high concentration of astaxanthin in the body of wild salmon explains its extraordinary resistance and strength.
The molecule plays a protective role for its lipid tissues against peroxidation, an oxidative stress that can damage them.

Additional Sources of Astaxanthin

While marine life is where astaxanthin is most commonly found, it is not restricted to water-based plants and animals. For example, a species of yeast called Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (also known as Phaffia) also contains relatively high levels of astaxanthin. Like the microalgae form of the pigment, Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous is a producer of astaxanthin; it does not absorb it from other organic sources.


It is interesting to note that in some cases, commercial fisheries add synthetically-produced astaxanthin to their fish feed, in order to help give their fish the same appearance as fish caught in the wild. This synthetic astaxanthin is produced from petrochemicals - the same stuff you put into the crankcase of your car. It is completely different chemically than natural astaxanthin and has been shown to be 20X to 50X weaker as an antioxidant than its natural cousin and is potentially unsafe.  Synthetically produced astaxanthin is produced in laboratories. Also, astaxanthin from genetically mutated yeast known as Phaffia has not established sufficient safety standards and is thus not allowed by the US FDA for human consumption above 2mg per day and is not recommended for long-term use or for children. The only form of astaxanthin that has hundreds of medical research experiments showing health benefits as well as extensive safety trials and fifteen years of safe use in humans is astaxanthin from microalgae.


Astaxanthin is a powerful, naturally occurring carotenoid pigment that's found in certain marine plants and animals. Often called "the King of the Carotenoids," astaxanthin is recognized as being one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature. It is of particular significance, because unlike some other types of antioxidants, astaxanthin never becomes a pro-oxidant in the body so it can never cause harmful oxidation.

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